Flash Fic Challenge – Haunted

I decided to do another one. Here it is.

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Haunted

There was something like a muffled scream as the man opened the door. He turned to look at her and smiled. “See? Haunted, like I told you. This house eats the unwary.”

Elana smiled weakly, wondering if he was trying to scare her. It was such a lame thing it was hard to imagine, but maybe that worked for him. “I doubt a house can eat anything, Mister … what did you say your name was again?”

He held the door open for her, continuing to smile that creepy smile that never reached his eyes. “Smith. John Smith.”

“Okay.” If that was his actual name, then her name was Amanda Huggenkiss, but she wasn’t about to point that out. No, she was here for a tour of the house with the creepy old man. Afterwards, all bets were off. “So, I take it you don’t own this house? Aren’t we trespassing?”

“I have an understanding with the owners. It seems, with the ghost problem, they’ve been unable to sell the property.” He led the way down the dark, narrow front hall. The air was redolent with dust, and there were somewhat ominous creaks and groans of the house settling around them. It was a nice atmosphere, she’d have given it a six, especially since keeping this place dusty despite the sheer amount of people tromping through here must have been a feat.

“I’ve heard stories of people going missing from this area. Is this place like a supernatural hotspot or something?”

Smith chuckled in a totally creepy way, leading her through empty rooms. There were still no signs that people had been through it recently.

There was that noise again, although in the house it sounded like a harsh, sharp screech coming from beneath them. He turned once he’d reached a door in the deserted kitchen, and gave her a teeth baring grin that was stuck somewhere between gleeful and hungry. “The basement was where the Whitehall Killer finished off his victims. That’s why the basement is such a fertile ground for tormented ghosts. Are you sure you’re ready for it?”

She smirked. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

He headed down the basement steps, and she followed, only briefly wondering why he didn’t turn the light on. But then it occurred to her that no one ever seemed to see ghosts in well lit rooms, and mentally dubbed herself a moron.

The basement was concrete and dripped water from large cracks that arced across the wall like subtle graffiti. There was a smell of mold, earth, and something else down here. Something pungent and feral, like an animal den. “It’s said he kept his victims in a room down here, sometimes for days before they died.”

“Uh huh.” She was starting to suspect he’d watched way too many crime shows as well as too many of those ghost hunter shows.

Creepy guy led her to a small door, tucked away in a dark corner. “Do you dare look inside? The ghosts can get angry.”

She rolled her eyes. If this guy was trying to be stereotypically creepy, he belonged in the bad actor hall of fame. “Why else did I pay you twenty bucks for the grand tour? Lead the way.”

His grin widened as he pushed open the door and walked inside, and Elena followed. The room was dark, lit only by a single bare bulb dangling from the ceiling, and the back of the claustrophobic room was cut off from the rest by a black curtain. Rust and water stains discolored the walls, and may have looked like dried blood to some, but she knew it was definitely rust. The animal smell was a thousand times worse in here. “Can’t you feel the restless energy in here?”

“Cut the shit, asshole,” she snapped. “Are you gonna kill me now or what?”

His blue eyes gazed at her with something like respect. For once, he dropped the phony grin. “ Um, what?”

“The building didn’t eat anyone, any more than the real owners of the place know you’re here. So I assume you’ve been killing all the people here as the end of the tour. Cute. Where are the bodies?”

Now he smiled, and this time it was genuine, and all the more chilling for it. “I’ve killed no one.” He began slowly reaching for the curtain, using his body to block her view, But she’d caught the motion, and that was enough.

She lunged forward, grabbing him by the collar of his coat, and spun him hard into the wall, smashing him face first into the concrete. “What’s behind the curtain, huh? I’m guessing it’s not a guy in a silly hat.”

“What?”

“How soon we forget the classics.” She was able to reach the curtain, so she yanked it down. Somehow, of all the things that could have been there, she was not expecting to see an impossibly huge bird, about four feet high with a wingspan nearly twice that, and a large yellow beak that came to a razor sharp point. Its feathers were the color of old blood, and one of its big yellow talons was chained to the floor. It let out a huge screech not unlike a high pitched human scream. “She needs to feed,” Smith said. “Roc chicks get very hungry.”

“I bet they do,” Elena agreed, and shoved the man towards the bird, which stabbed him through the chest with its beak. He gasped, and as he fell to the floor, she said, “It’s a shame you got Vigilante and not the Crimson Bolt. He would have let you live.”

As the bird started tearing strips off of him and eating him, she keyed on her wrist radio, and said, “Hey, Phantasm, we know anybody who works with big birds?”

One of these days, she was going to figure out why The Guardian League gave her all the weird assignments.

 

**

 

Haunted House/Superhero/Mysterious Stranger/Mythical Bird

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